Marlon Brando Confronts the Void

Marlon Brando

INTERVIEWER: What about books?

BRANDO: I used to read an awful lot. Then I found that I had a lot of information and very little knowledge. I couldn’t learn from reading. I was doing something else by reading, just filling up this hopper full of information, but it was undigested information. I used to think the more intelligence you had, the more knowledge you had, but it’s not true. Look at Bill Buckley; he uses his intelligence to further his own prejudices.

Why one reads is important. If it’s just for escape, that’s all right, it’s like taking junk, it’s meaningless. It’s kind of an insult to yourself. Like modern conversation – it’s used to keep people away from one another, because people don’t feel assaulted by conversation so much as silence. People have to make conversation in order to fill up this void. Void is terrifying to most people. We can’t have a direct confrontation with somebody in silence – because what you’re really having is a full and more meaningful confrontation.

Marlon Brando
Playboy interview, 1979

Photo: Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)


One thought on “Marlon Brando Confronts the Void

  1. That’s generally very true, that knowledge and intelligence are not the same thing. That said, it can be an excuse for not reading! I personally think reading helped me broaden my horizons. I’m from a small town in North Dakota, a very traditional, conservative place. Without books I would never have challenged the culture around me, the religious beliefs I was raised with, or my own psychological hangups.

    I tend to disagree that reading as an escape is good. I think that’s the exact problem with most readers. They read to escape themselves and their lives, meaning they aren’t actually challenging anything at all. Romance novels are horrible for this. Reading for escape is an exercise in being lulled, in having one’s mind numbed. We have enough of that, in my opinion.

    That said, one needs play. Always. But play can happen with awareness. Always.

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